For the first time in a long time, the flights I used were during the evening, so no pictures from me for this trip report
Day: Tuesday 4th March
Aircraft: G EZIP
Photo © P R D Jones
A straightforwards trip from Cardiff saw us arrive at BRS as expected. I was lucky enough to find a space in the long-term car-park, only a few minutes walk from the terminal. Soon enough we were in the queue to check-in (having bumped into people we know from our home village who were also off to Italy that evening). Being fairly early to check in, we were in boarding group ‘A’.
Before we went through to departures we thought we would have a coffee - this area (that used to have limited views of the apron) now has no views, and resembles a cardboard box as refurbishment work is taking place – it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience… and having knocked back our coffees we went through to the departure lounge. The queue for security was brief (only a few minutes) and the staff both pleasant and efficient.
BRS’s departure lounge has changed little since my last visit here in June 2006, only it feels even more geared to taking your money off you, with seemingly less seating space and more shops and eateries. Having said that, whilst busy, it wasn’t exceedingly so, so finding somewhere to sit wasn’t a problem.
We expected to be called around 30 minutes before take off, and although this happened a little later than expected, we were soon in the queue for final boarding cards checks etc, and a short walk (on a cool evening) out to the aircraft.
Having boarded through the rear door, we settled in rows 21/22 on the port side of G EZIP. It was pretty evident that loads were light for this flight (may be 70-80 people onboard so only around half full), and were encouraged to spread ourselves around the cabin – I had my row to myself.
The pleasant cabin crew ran through the usual safety procedures, and the Captain introduced himself and gave the normal brief information. Steps were soon moved away
After a wait of a few minutes (when you would have expected the engines to be started up) the Captain’s voice came over the PA. Not good news – due to a problem with the weather in MXP we could expect a delay of two hours before take off… apparently the wind was blowing from the wrong direction which meant a special landing procedure had to be adopted which in turn limited the number of aircraft landing… there was a pretty audible groan from the passengers. We were allowed to use phones, move around the cabin etc. though there was no drinks service, presumably so we could get a quick getaway if needed.
After we had been waiting for over an hour or so, I noted a set of steps being brought to the aircraft… this set alarm bells ringing – had easyJet decided to cancel the flight…? Another PA from the Captain… he and his First Officer were about to run out of hours. The good news though, a replacement flight deck crew had been sourced and would join the aircraft shortly.
The changeover took place and flightdeck crew #2 made their introductions – the two crews had switched flights, so our original crew were going to do a return to GLA whilst the guys originally planned to do this would fly us to MXP. Given that this was going to extend their day considerably there wasn’t a hint of fed-up-ness about this.
As an aside, during all the waiting, a passenger had got increasingly agitated a couple of rows ahead. I suspect some deprivation from some sort of stimulation, even if only tobacco. The crew dealt with him calmly and efficiently explaining if he got off the a/c he wouldn’t be getting back on…
The anticipated two hour delay eventually ended up a little less than expected. Whilst waiting any number of other EZY A319’s had come and gone, along with the usual other suspects at BRS… Brussels AL / Air France / Ryanair and OLT etc. The only aircraft of (minor) interest was one of Titan Airways BAe146 which appeared to be subbing for KLM.
When we did take off we soon found ourselves flying over Southern England before crossing the English Channel and heading to Northern Italy.
The flight passed quickly enough, and although I had wondered whether we would be held at MXP due to the landing restrictions we made a fairly swift approach, with an excellent landing before taxi-ing to MXP’s Terminal2
As Arsenal were playing AC Milan at the San Siro stadium, MXP had a few UK charter aircraft present… including Monarch and Thomas Cook who would be returning the happy victorious Arsenal fans home to the UK later that night. As well as these familiar airlines, less common airlines to the UK like Eurofly, Neos and Livingston Energy Flight were also visible around T2.
Although we had parked up next to the terminal we were coached around to arrivals – our suitcases soon arrived and we ventured from MXP’s near empty arrivals hall into the night air to find the Malpensa Shuttle. We were lucky enough to get on an extremely full coach, and found ourselves in the centre of Milan shortly under an hour later.
For those of you who know Milan, you’ll know the approaches of it are not too encouraging. Industry abounds, the motorway to the centre flanked by factories, industrial estates and retail parks. Add to this the graffiti so prevalent around Milan, and its brutal concrete architecture, and it doesn’t make too appetising an introduction.
These factors seek to mislead about Milan.
The following few days showed us a city, whilst perhaps not the soft, sexy romantic Italy, so many like to romanticise about, but a place with many facets and features. It’s one I would definitely return to (though perhaps not Venice where I also visited and I almost got washed away in the tide of tourism…).
Day: Friday March 7th 2008
Aircraft: G EZIW
Photo © P R D Jones
Instead of returning to MXP on the Malpensa Shuttle coach, we decided to use the train instead. Oddly, not departing from Milan’s main rail station, this was a good choice as the motorway towards Malpensa had been blocked for most of the day by an accident. The only disadvantage being that the train arrives at Milan Terminal1, whilst we needed to depart from T2. A regular bus shuttle travels between the two terminals though we arrived just in time to see it departing to T2… Still it gave me a chance to stand outside enjoying the smell of the Jet-A1 fumes.
The trip between the two terminals didn’t take us anywhere interesting, and only the expected aircraft were visible in the maintenance areas. The only exception to this was a US Airways aircraft, presumably resting between flights before a morning departure.
As we were a little later than planned arriving at MXP, check-in was already open, and we were pretty much towards the back of the queue. The wait wasn’t too long, albeit we were in boarding group B.
MXP’s T2 doesn’t have a lot going for it at 8:00pm in the evening – in fact the only signs of life were at the newsagents, so a quick look around here, and we were through to departures.
MXP’s T2 doesn’t have a lot going for it here either, though there was a fast food place and also some more shops (tax free shopping was fine though)
All in all there was an air of tumbleweed blowing through…. As Alitalia are cutting back their operations so drastically at MXP, this is bound to mean more capacity in T1, so I wonder what the future holds for T2, as I would presume the charter and LCC operations that currently use it could be accommodated in T1?
After a while the gate was displayed and we gathered nearby – the easyJet staff announced that boarding would be called in a few minutes which meant the inevitable scrum formed. When boarding did begin, boarding groups were strictly monitored, so some were (rightly) disappointed…
Once onboard, it was the same as the way out… pleasant cabin crew, and reasonable levels of comfort - the aircraft was somewhat fuller including some happy/drunk Everton football fans returning after their team's foray into Europe despite their loss.
Delayed again, like the outbound, (the Captain saying that the refuellers hadn’t been keen to come to the aircraft), though the delay had been evident from when I arrived at the airport?) we were half an hour late for takeoff. Schedule padding meant that arrival back in BRS wasn’t going to be far off on time though.
The trip home was uneventful with views over Europe most of the way.
On arrival at BRS were were parked someway from the terminal (rather closer to the old terminal than the new one), but only a short trip on the transfer bus.
Immigration was swiftly handled, and our suitcases were almost the first off the aircraft.
We left the airport within about 20 minutes of landing which was a great result…
easyJet was fine – the cabin crew were friendly and efficient – security and safety was clearly a priority. The need to change flight deck crew on the outbound flight was dealt with efficiently, with no further delay caused.
The A319s were fine too, with comfort levels being quite adequate for a shortish flight like BRS-MXP…
Thanks for reading.
[Edited 2008-03-25 10:10:58]